When I was young (it seemed that life was so beautiful…) the major part of videogames with a Role Playing Game component followed the same two paths. There was Action RPG (Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Story of Thor…) and on the other hand, there was turn-based (Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger…).
One day, I visited a friend who had every platform and game possible. He was older than me and was playing something I had never seen before, something that caught my attention immediately; splendid graphics with unique style. But it wasn’t the in-game graphics that got my attention. That guy, that friend of mine, was controlling four or five characters, placing them turn-based on the map. Strategy had just landed on RPGs. And my love story with the Tactical RPGs had just started.
The game was Final Fantasy Tactics (PSX). It was my first love. But I should wait a bit more to find my true love, which in fact was older. Not only a “for life” love, but an immortal one: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling together (Snes/Psx). Since then I have bought and played everything remotely resembling that experience, everything that could make me return for a while to that old love. Some of those games include Tactis Ogre: The Knight of Lodis (highly recommended), FFTA, FFTA2, Fire emblem (GBA), Disgaea...
And then, a new spin on my life. I find Arcadian Atlas and the story of a brother and a sister: Twin Otter.
Becca Blair and Taylor Blair are two young, but well prepared folks from Austin, Texas. They have more than enough experience in the world of videogame development. Taylor is the one who writes the story and handles the scenes, while Becca, who tells us that she created her first game at the age of 11, is the developer of the game and the graphics.
I tell you this because in this movement of Indie games, I think one of the aspects that make it so special is to know who is behind the project. I come from another world, the books, but it’s not that different. Times have changed and creators and receivers of any cultural element are closer than ever.
As if the game of Arcadian Atlas wasn’t enough to yell, “TAKE MY MONEY!”, the story of Becca and Taylor, the story of two brothers developing a game together, is what has finally made me become an unconditional fan of this project.
Now let’s take a look on the teaser. Just the way the company logo is inserted into the story itself tells us a lot. Casual? I do not think so at all. For me the message is clear. It is a company developing a video game, but a story within a story. One way to make us understand how the heart of Twin Otter is deeply implied in Arcadian Atlas.
There is a clear similarity in graphics between Arcadian Atlas and Final Fantasy Tactics. Illustration of the characters, though, seems closer to Let us Cling Together: more mature and with greater personality than artwork on Final Fantasy Tactics. I also believe that plot goes in that direction. Both games (FFT and LUCT) had a very mature story, far from usual in RPGs. A story of ambition, loyalty, friendship, and kingdoms collapsing.
At one point in the plot (mid-game), Final Fantasy Tactics become more classical, typical situation (in games, luckily not in life hehe) about preventing the world’s destruction by some supernatural power. It’s not like that in Let Us Cling Together, which portrays the liberation of the nation of Walsta of their oppressors, Gargastan. At some point of the game, the gargastanians, the same who fought for liberation become tyrants, forcing the character to rebel against them. (If you ever read my novel Crónica del Rey Cautivo you will realize how you got me to influence this game).
Therefore, in Arcadian Atlas, I am anticipating a similar tone to Let Us Cling Together. A mature plot, morally ambiguous, that will force us to make decisions that are not easy.
Grimdark. The first time I saw the application of this literary label to a game was in his mouth (or rather, pen) of Alberto Venegas, in his review of Darkest Dungeon. I realized that this label was not only was more than accurate, but also that I had already played a grimdark game before. My favorite game, as I said: Let us Cling together.
We faced a very tough choice at some moment of the game, and from this choice will not only change the character’s alignment (L, N, C), but the development of story itself. Some of our allies in the Legal path were our enemies in the Chaotic path, as in the case of the knight Leonard or bandit Zapan.
I explain this because, from what I see in the teaser, I think Arcadian Atlas follows this line of hard decisions and adult themes. I do not know exactly why, but I think Taylor Bair is a big fan of Game of Thrones and loves characters dying. Another issue to develop: the death of the characters in RPGs. But not today, let's continue with Arcadian Atlas.
Music is a surprising and extremely original element in this project. Jazz! Whaddaya think? You can hear one of the songs on the webpage of Twin Otter.
And that’s all folks, at least for today. I wanted to make an analysis of this, hopefully, upcoming game. But you have much more information both on the page and in the kickstarter project that is already running (Take a look! Share! Support!)
Becca Bair explains in her bio that she just wants to fulfil her dream, "send a final love letter to her favourite style of game." Does not this idea remember you of Final Fantasy, a last shot from a video game developer before engaging in fishing? Are we witnessing the birth of a (two, twins) star?
I think so, and so I've become a champion of the cause, a relentless Knight of Arcadia.
Myself: Vic White